Destinations

Colombia

With two oceans, a biodiverse rainforest and wildlife rich savannah, a coffee growing region, a fascinating section of the Andes, vibrant cities and a fascinating history, this land of contrasts is sure to delight even the most seasoned traveller.

Although it wasn’t all that long ago that Colombia came with a big warning sign attached and was best avoided, South America’s most northerly country has turned itself around to become one of the continent’s top tourist destinations. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse destinations on earth due to its incredible variety of habitats, which range from rainforests and savannahs to deserts and wetlands. It harbours the largest number of amphibians and terrestrial mammals in the world, including jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, spectacled bears and sloths. It is also fantastic for birdwatching, with more than 1,900 bird species, 70 of which are endemic. 

Bogota and the high plateau

Bogota, the capital, sits right in the middle, high up in the Andes. Although it might not be quite as charming as Colombia’s most famous city, Cartagena, Bogota is nevertheless home to a dizzying array of museums, churches, colonial mansions and top end restaurants which make it well worth spending a night or two here. You can take a day trip from the city to the astonishing Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, carved underground in a still functioning salt mine, or continue a little further to the charming village of Villa de Leyva. With scarcely a modern building in site and boasting one of the largest cobbled-stoned squares in South America this village where time stands still is a great place to see a snap shot of historical Colombia preserved in its entirety.

Medellin and the coffee region

An easy 45 minute flight west of Bogota, Colombia’s coffee region is a must. Think rolling hillsides, plunging valleys, quaint villages, friendly coffee farmers and beautiful haciendas. With a tour of one of the regions coffee plantations, you will see the whole process from seedling to coffee cup and every part in between.

Medellin, Colombia’s second city, once the most dangerous city in the world thanks to Pablo Escobar’s infamous drug cartel, has risen above its bad reputation and is no longer a place to avoid. Art enthusiasts can enjoy the works of Medellin born sculptor Fernando Botero which adorn park and public plazas, or head up on the cable cart for a birds eye view of the sprawling city. August sees the annual ‘Feria de las Flores’ with a procession of flower growers, music and dance all adding to an amazing carnival atmosphere.

The Llanos
Home of the Llaneros or Colombian cowboys, the Llanos is a massive plain made up of savannas, woodlands, and grasslands. It lies to the east of the Colombian Andes and the north of the Amazon, shared between Colombia and Venezuela. For half of the year - between May and October - huge swathes of it are flooded: so much so that when the first Europeans arrived in the region from the east, they supposedly believed they had reached the Pacific Ocean. During its dry season, giant anteaters stroll though the savannas, howler monkeys swing through the trees, giant herds of capybaras dot the plains and pink river dolphins frolick along its rivers. With a healthy population of elusive pumas and even stealthy jaguars, the llanos is remarkably biodiverse and home to some of the best ecotourism experiences in Colombia. 

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona and the north

Moving up to the Caribbean coast in the eastern part of Colombia, the world’s highest coastal mountain range forms Tayrona National Park. A large indigenous population from different tribes lives in the area, and visitors can expect jungle walks and pristine beaches in equal measures, making it the ideal spot for those who can’t decide between relaxing in the sun and something a little more adventurous. Accommodation options in the area are limited, but the traditionally styled, luxury huts overlooking the Caribbean Sea are unbeatable.

Cartagena and the Carribean coast

Last, but by no means least, Colombia’s Caribbean coast is also home to the delightful city of Cartagena, undeniably a highlight of any trip to the country.  Surrounded by a defensive wall originally built to keep out unwelcome pirates, Cartagena exhibits some of the best preserved colonial architecture in all of South America and its rich history, diverse culture and laid-back Caribbean charm absorb every visitor. Colourful houses, balconies overflowing with flowers and narrow cobbled streets make the city absurdly photogenic, while away from the historic centre, Castillo San Felipe and El Convento de La Popa are two of Cartagena’s most spectacular sites.

DID YOU KNOW?

Despite being made up mostly of ice and surrounded by water, Antarctica is in fact a vast desert, receiving less rainfall than any other continent. Less surprisingly, it is also the coldest and the windiest continent on the planet.

Sample Itinerary for Colombia

Our Colombia
Visit this country of contrasts and explore the highlights of this diverse and resilient nation. From the capital of Bogotá, travel to the picturesque coffee region, the City of Eternal Spring, Medellin and Cartagena, South America's most romantic city. Delve into our Colombia.
9 NIGHTS / 10 DAYS • FROM US$3,100 per person
Days 1 & 2: Bogota

Upon arrival in Bogotá, you will be met at El Dorado International Airport and privately transferred to your hotel. Stay in the heart of Zona G, the capital's buzzing gastronomic neighbourhood. Declared an official Monument of Cultural Interest, your hotel exudes colonial-style grandeur and charm.

On your full day in the city you will explore with your private guide and venture out to the astonishing Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, carved underground in a still functioning salt mine. Your guide will also offer their insider knowledge of local restaurants, bars and hidden spots. 

Days 3 & 4: Pereira and Valle de Corcora

Your guide will take you to the international airport for the short  flight to Pereira, in the heart of Colombia's coffee triangle. After checking into a tasteful boutique property on the outskirts of town, you will visit a local coffee plantation. Learn about the process from bean to cup and sample some of the world's best coffee overlooking the stunning landscapes of the region. The following day you will set off for the Valle de Cocora in the central mountains of the department of Quindío, home to the “Quindian wax palm”, the national tree of Colombia. After exploring the biodiverse flora and fauna of the cloud forest on foot or horseback, continue on to the charming local towns of Salento and Filandia before returning to your hotel.

Days 5 & 6: Medellin

You will be transferred to the airport in Pereira for a short scheduled flight to Medellin. For those happy to travel at a more leisurely pace journey can also be done overland, taking in some beautiful scenery en route. Medellín, named the City of Eternal Spring, for it's year-round temperate climate was made infamous by the exploits of Pablo Escobar. The city has left the dark days far behind and invested hugely in redevelopment, to become a centre of culture. Stay two nights and explore the city as your expert guide shares one of the most impressive social transformations of a destination in recent history. Venturing outside the city you may wish to visit the huge rock at El Peñol and the traditional town of Guatape.

Days 7, 8, 9 & 10: Cartagena

Fly to Cartagena de Indias for three nights. As a major port, regularly under attack during the sixteenth century,  the Spanish built a series of forts and walls around what is now the old city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. With your guide explore the rabbit warren of cobbled streets as you step into Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Colombia. Cartagena’s vibrant historic centre hosts a huge a variety of cuisine, combining Spanish flavours with African influences brought across by the slaves and migrants of 19th century. Enjoy an afternoon sampling the delights of local culinary artisans on a street food tour. After a couple of days at leisure you will fly back to Bogotá to connect with your flight home.

Recommended Extension: Brazil

Fly to Rio de Janeiro and immerse yourself in Brazil's most romantic city. Head up Corcovado Mountain to the enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer and take the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain for amazing views of the city. Walk the beachside neighbourhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema, try some local Brazilian dishes and take in all the glitzy glamour of a live samba show. Fly to Iguaçu Falls and explore this magnificent site from both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the border. Take an exhilarating boat ride to the base of the falls or hop in a helicopter for a bird’s eye view during the day. For nature and widllife lovers, a visit to the Amazon and the Pantanal is a must.

Recommended Extension: Peru

Fly to Lima, and enjoy Latin America's gastronomic capital for a couple of days before connecting to your flight to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas. Explore Cusco's cobblestoned streets and colonial buildings constructed on top of ancient Inca walls. Spend a couple of days exploring the Sacred Valley's Inca sites and charming colonial villages and markets, before venturing to the Lost City of the Incas. Countless photographs of Machu Picchu have been taken but there is no way to perfectly capture the moment when you first set eyes on this breathtaking place. This beautiful, magical place remains a feat in human ingenuity and architectural excellence that baffles experts to this day.

Ready for your trip?
Let us help you plan everything.

We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.